Is Bright Line Eating a Cult? (Not Really)

People in the Bright Line Eating community sometimes joke that BLE is a cult, and I can see why they do. We have a lot of very zealous followers. However, there’s a specific set of criteria that must be met to qualify as a cult, and in this week’s vlog, I break it down point by point to explore whether or not BLE truly fits the moniker.


  1. Susan Knouff

    It seems to me that you missed an opportunity here to take on a very real and concerning topic in a logical way. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring in an objective reviewer to speak on this topic? IF BLE were a cult, of course the leader is going to say that it isn’t and give convincing information to support that view.
    I’m a survivor of childhood spiritual abuse (as well as surviving the trauma of my father being a sociopath) and as such I do have very real concerns about my ability to recognize whether or not I am being taken in by a cult/cult-like group. This vlog was not helpful for me. Five of the six criteria are either “yes” that definitely fits or “nuanced.” That’s concerning to me. It’s also concerning that you promote finding humor in the term cult… it’s really not at all funny and feels more like minimization and/or gaslighting.
    I’m now rethinking my decision to renew my membership because my legitimate concern about participating has been “is this a cult.” I feel that you have just laughed away my concern.

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  2. Huxley

    I would love to hear your views on protein powder supplementation, especially knowing the respect you and Ari Whitten have for one another’s work.

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  3. Judith Myers

    I paid for the Boot camp but have not done it. I read the book and started the program and have been with it for over a year and lost over 30 pounds.
    Please tell me what the boot camp entails.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Judith! In Boot Camp the educational videos are released once a week. They include research and information as well as tips on how to maneuver everyday situations while staying on track.

      The coaching calls occur weekly as well, each running about 2 hours. This is an opportunity to ask questions and address concerns you may have during your journey. If you are not able to join us live, all calls are recorded for your convenience.

      Our private Online Support Community is currently hosted through Facebook. You’ll get to join your very own “House” or group within Facebook. In your House, you have the ability to connect to fellow Boot Campers and post questions, comments, pictures, recipes, and much more! The controlled environment allows you to participate as much or as little as you’d like and connects you with people going through the same journey as you.

      Upon registering for the Boot Camp program you will also have the ability to upgrade and include the Meditation Course taught by Monique Rhodes. This course is an amazing companion to the Boot Camp program and offers daily meditations throughout the 8 weeks.

      Bonus materials are also offered throughout the program, including a plant-based cookbook, webinars, and other special surprises.

      We hope this helps! 🧡

      Reply ·
  4. Zeb

    You repeatedly mention science and studies, but there has been nothing on BLE or its results published in any recognized scientific journal. The emailed surveys are marketing data at best and critically flawed in terms of having any type of representative sample. What studies are you referring to? These statements seem highly misleading and detract from your credibility and from the program.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Zeb! We appreciate your interest in scientific research. Susan Peirce Thompson’s background is as a tenured psychology professor and her PhD is in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a cutting-edge and highly interdisciplinary field. She is committed to regularly conveying important and relevant research findings to you, through the weekly vlog and other communications.

      You can find more information about the program, including links to published research, here:

      The surveys that we administer in our programs were developed by 3 PhDs: Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, and Dr. Win Guan. The primary purpose of these surveys is to gather data on the experiences and outcomes of the BLE community to evaluate the efficacy and to support research publications. These measures include not only constructs that tap past history, program adherence, and weight-related outcomes but also validated measures that tap such important correlates as depressed mood, social support, and self-reported health.

      The secondary aim of these surveys is program evaluation and support. These measures tap such things as general and specific satisfaction with the programs.

      We hope that this provides clarification.

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  5. Annie

    BLE for me is Conscious

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  6. Peter

    All I know is that I am prepared to follow slavishly anyone who knows the singular form of “criteria.” Coming up on 6 years of “droid-like conformity” [LOL] to this cult of individual responsibility, all I can say is : Command me, Leader! I hear and I obey!

    Seriously though, great vlog, well-reasoned and forthright.

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  7. Debra Zawadski

    Beautiful! Well expressed and clear-Kudos Susan!

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  8. Nancy W. Goss

    It never ever occurred to me that anyone would think that this movement is a cult. I am glad you addressed the issue.

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  9. Vicky P Goddard

    Thank you, Susan for your vlog today. I never once thought of BLE as a cult, but what I do know is this: I have not been at this weight for umpteen years ! My highest weight was 228.?, and this morning bbm, I weighed 181.2. I plan to stick with this lifestyle change forever! And my thanks go out to you for putting this whole BLE thing together. I still have appx. 60 lbs to lose, but, because of your books and guidance, I know its coming soon. Thank You!

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  10. Pia Belle Liphuijsen

    You definitely don’t dodge any subject.

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  11. Veronica Monet

    Over the years I have joked that certain groups are like a cult. But the truth is usually NO. Having been raised in a Christian doomsday cult as a child, I know what a cult is and how it feels to be under its control. Fear and manipulation are the hallmarks and those who think for themselves are either scapegoated or banished. So if there is acceptance and love that creates freedom for diverse thought and actions, then you can’t call it a cult.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Yes, some of our members refer to it jokingly that way. But true cults are no joke. We’re so sorry you had to endure that, Veronica. 😔 All love and acceptance here! 🧡

      Reply ·
  12. Don Benedik

    Great talk. I borrowed your 1st book from a library 3 times, had the meal plan posted on my refrigerator and proceeded to lose about 50 pounds in almost 6 months. Since I began the program, I have eliminated some medications(cholesterol), a diabetic drug(Januvia) , halved my hypertension meds, and cut my diabetic medications by 75% to the lowest dosage ( 1 mg glimiperide). My A1C( 3 month blood glucose measure) went from a dangerous 7.1% to a very satisfactory 5.3%. I reached my goal weight , 155 lbs, in February and have maintained that same weight since. That was my weight in high school!
    I am energized , feel good, my semi-annual health checks are without red flags, my physician is impressed. I bought your 2nd book that continued encouragement and offered recipes to add diversity to my diet without breaking my Bright Lines. I am forever grateful> you have taken the guess work out of food planning and I am now eating, with gusto, vegetables I had never had before.
    With regard to this Vlog, I had a relative criticize BLE just after I started the program. She knew I had started my BLE journey. However , she suggested I eat some specially prepared Mexican doughnuts. However, when I said I no longer eat doughnuts she exclaimed, ” Why not, they won’t kill you!” I then was challenged with “Are you in a cult?” I walked away.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Good for you for sticking to your Bright Lines, Don. Obviously it paid off in spades with those healthy numbers! 🧡

      Reply ·
  13. Margaret A Mackenzie-Hooson

    Congratulations and respect on the intelligent, competent, accurate, sometimes complex and sometimes lighthearted way in which you made the case for your program as not being a cult. Especially because you acknowledged nuance and you were not dogmatic in your presentation. You also referred to research based references for your principles. As a medical anthropologist I worked with other criteria for defining cults and your work did not fit into those either–and made sense of why Diane in her response above was intelligibly so concerned. Important ones were that in order to be regarded as a cult, the leader had to be rigidly authoritarian, to separate followers abruptly and completely from their families and previous contacts, to punish them if they deviated from that, and to demand serious money and ultimately to require taking over all their assets.

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  14. PJ

    well done, Susan!

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  15. Diane

    I read the subject line in the email sent to me about this vlog and saw the word “cult”. My heart literally started racing in my chest and I felt myself getting light headed. The addition of “(Not really)” was not enough to negate my panic. I have lost a number of family members who I continue to love dearly to a bona fide religious cult. I pushed through my panic to watch the vlog and am glad that I did as Susan very clearly explained that our eating based movement is not a cult. For those in our community who refer to it as a cult, I know that you are probably using the term with a big side serving of humour. But for those of us who have lost people we love to a cult, it isn’t in any way funny. Can we just label BLE as a science based weight loss and maintenance movement and leave the not funny and off-putting labels out of the mix?

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Diane! We hear you and we’re so sorry this vlog title caused you discomfort. This topic actually came up from a recent Facebook Live Q&A that Susan did, in response to a question from a viewer. And even though it’s sometimes jokingly called a cult by our community members and/or their loved ones, we realize that cults are no joking matter, which is exactly why Susan thought this was an important topic to address. We thank you for hanging in there and watching the whole vlog. 🧡

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    2. Deb

      Power to you for speaking up Diane and for putting your Courage on to watch the video. 🙏

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    3. Jo Lynn

      I agree 100%, Diane. I wouldn’t even say “movement” but instead “program.”

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